Ideas may be bulletproof, but nobody’s tried plasma rifles

Skip to content

Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Vadron
    June 17, 2019 @ 5:42 pm

    You know, it’s your book and all, but a suggestion: having watched Gatiss’s “First Men on the Moon”, I think it would be just about right for a ‘Pop Between Realities’ bonus article. It’s certainly as much like a Gatiss “Who” episode as a Steven Moffat “Sherlock” episode is like a Steven Moffat “Who” episode.


  2. Vadron
    June 17, 2019 @ 5:48 pm

    “his transphobia is almost as bad as Roberts’s”

    Oh yeah, been waiting for you to say something about that bit of drama. From what I’ve seen of it, it would appear Roberts, whilst pretty egregiously wrong about the whole trans issue, is at least honorably wrong in that he appears to think the whole phenomenon is just a symptom of restrictive gender roles under the patriarchy. It’s lunacy but not bigotry.

    Don’t know anything about Gatiss, though. (I’m not usually very clued-in about behind-the-scenes turmoil.) What’s up with that?


    • Bedlinog
      June 17, 2019 @ 8:17 pm

      Association with the other writers on the League of Gentlemen. See also, Matt Lucas (Gatiss was script editor on Little Britain).


      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        June 17, 2019 @ 8:29 pm

        More to the point, Gatiss has in recent memory doubled down on the transphobic jokes in League of Gentlemen, updating them to be transphobic for the present day instead of being dated transphobia and insisting that there’s nothing wrong with doing so.

        He’s also prone to the “we shouldn’t worry about pronouns because ISIS” argument.

        As for Roberts, he’s gone full Glinner lately and can really go fuck himself.


        • Sleepyscholar
          June 18, 2019 @ 1:12 am

          I didn’t know what Glinner meant, so I looked it up and was amused to be prominently offered Graham Linehan’s Wikipedia page. Which fits perfectly, given Glinner Linehan’s own transphobic proclivities.


          • mx_mond
            June 18, 2019 @ 7:55 am

            Yeah, Glinner is Linehan’s twitter handle.

          • Sleepyscholar
            June 19, 2019 @ 6:12 am


            Now it finally sinks in.

            Thanks for explaining it so kindly to someone who deserved to be laughed at.

          • mx_mond
            June 19, 2019 @ 7:58 am

            No worries :). I admit I chuckled a little at your comment, but I think it indicates a good life-Twitter balance on your part.

          • Sleepyscholar
            June 19, 2019 @ 12:33 pm

            My Life:Twitter balance looks like this:

            Facebook, similarly.

            Clearly this leads to risible levels of ignorance about certain things.

            On the bright side, Father Ted was only tarnished for me relatively recently.

    • Przemek
      June 18, 2019 @ 9:44 am

      “It’s lunacy but not bigotry”.

      At the end of the day, does it really matter? In an academic discussion about the types of transphobia, maybe. But when it comes to the damage his behaviour causes, his specific beliefs don’t change the fact that he’s actively hurting people.


      • TheWrittenTevs
        June 18, 2019 @ 10:07 am

        Plus his beliefs make him pretty intolerant of trans people and completely dismissive of their lived experience in favour of his view on the topic, meaning that I’m pretty sure his stance is a text book case of bigotry in action.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      June 18, 2019 @ 3:03 pm

      You remember last week when I warned you about coming off as a shit-stirring troll?

      Yeah. Several comments deleted. Don’t defend Gareth Roberts’s opinions on trans people on my blog.


      • Vadron
        June 18, 2019 @ 3:51 pm

        I’m not going to argue, because, your blog. But [argument deleted by admins]


        • Vadron
          June 18, 2019 @ 6:06 pm

          …hey! As I said if you don’t want the earlier comments on your blog, fine. But your rationale gives the impression that I was agreeing with Roberts, which couldn’t be further from the truth, and I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. You may disagree with what I was saying, but there is I think a pretty big difference between it and “defending his arguments”.


  3. Damien
    June 17, 2019 @ 9:38 pm

    One thing that always niggled me about this episode was that the Doctor never asked Friday the Ice Warrior what his real name was.


    • liminal fruitbat
      June 17, 2019 @ 9:57 pm

      Yeah, that’s just – would it have been so hard even to let the audience know? Iraxxa talks to him enough to address him by name.


    • Liam
      June 18, 2019 @ 8:30 am

      The Doctor did ask Friday that question (although Friday declines to answer), but unfortunately the scene was cut from the broadcast episode. It’s on the S10 box set deleted scenes extra though:


  4. taiey
    June 18, 2019 @ 1:23 pm

    I like how Bill keeps referencing random movies because clearly someone actually did write down on a note somewhere “she likes sci-fi”. [I find this specifically contrasts Martha, whom Gareth Roberts made a fan of stuff for the duration of Shakespeare Code and no one else writing for television noticed but many, many people people writing elsewhere did.]


    • Przemek
      June 18, 2019 @ 1:36 pm

      Yeah, that’s one of Bill’s more promising (and completely wasted) character traits.


    • Vadron
      June 18, 2019 @ 6:03 pm

      I wonder if Bill was originally written as the return of the possibly-companion from “Last Christmas”, and then they failed to get the actress back.


      • Dan L
        June 21, 2019 @ 10:25 am

        Steven Moffat said he wanted to cast a black actress from the start. He could be exaggerating, and maybe at some point it was to be Shona, but taking him at face value this suggests that it wasn’t.


        • tachyonspiral
          June 21, 2019 @ 2:51 pm

          IIRC they did consider bringing Shona back at one point, though?


        • Vadron
          June 22, 2019 @ 10:02 am

          “From the start” could mean a lot of things. It would certainly fit all the evidence to imagine that the first plan was to bring back Shona, then they couldn’t, and as soon as it became clear that a new companion would have to be created from scratch Moffat decided she’d be black.


  5. Przemek
    June 18, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

    This essay made me realize that I can forgive many flaws as long as a story is in any way interesting. And, subsequently, that I am unable to empathize with people who prefer boring, but competently done stories to interesting disasters. I guess it’s part of the reason why I love EP so much.

    I was surprised by how much I liked this episode while watching it. It’s a fun romp with some great ideas and visuals. It’s just a shame that it breaks Nardole’s character by making him let Missy out of the vault. He was always more of a plot device than a character, but here it was just blatant. It would’ve made so much more sense to have Missy escape the vault herself, either in this episode or the previous one…

    I liked how the Ice Warrior queen connected with Bill because they were both female. It contrasted nicely with all the soldiery stuff – feminity is humanizing here, which makes the (male) soldiers seem monstrous in comparison. And then the picture is futher complicated by having the queen be ruthless and prone to aggression because she’s an imperial ruler – which overrides her better side.

    As for that ending with Alpha Centauri, I certainly noticed that it was strange and I didn’t really get what it meant, but I just assumed it was something from the classic series that would appear in the season finale – that this short scene was meant to function as foreshadowing. I was wrong, but it made the scene work for me.


  6. Rodolfo Piskorski
    June 18, 2019 @ 10:56 pm

    Moffat is my favourite era of DW. Capaldi is my Doctor, and my favourite season is 8. Curiously, Moffat Who is often considered too “up its own ass”, getting bogged down in the continuity and the detail of Doctor Who lore. You would think that I would like that.

    But no. I usually completely miss any reference to Classic Who, which I never watched, expect some very few episodes. So Empress of Mars made very very little sense to me.

    But Moffat Who is still my favourite era. Just thought I would point out that not all Moffat fans are in it just for the mythos exploration.


    • tachyonspiral
      June 19, 2019 @ 9:45 pm

      People say that about Moffat a lot and it’s not really fair.
      There’s one or two Moffat-era stories which are measurably enhanced by a familiarity with the older series (Name of the Doctor, Day of the Doctor, Into the Dalek and Listen spring to mind), but mostly the classic who references are just easter eggs. Where Moffat gets ‘bogged down’ in continuity and lore, it’s usually stuff that was already established or re-introduced from 2005 onward.

      (Even Empress of Mars isn’t that hard to follow if you keep Cold War in mind, imo. But that wasn’t one of the more memorable stories so i don’t blame you.)

      ‘Up its own ass’ often seems to mean self-important and meta-referential, rather than lore-focused, anyway. Which Moffat Who often is, but if the alternative is unambitious throw-away episodes, i know which i find more entertaining.


  7. Ozyman.Jones
    June 19, 2019 @ 1:36 am

    One of the episodes that ‘missed’ for me this series. Can’t really put my finger on it, but apart from the fanwank ending, I forget this episode every time I try to recall stories from series 10, and even then the Alpha Centauri chuckle was only that, a very brief chuckle. I do remember being a little disappointed that the gender politics of the Ice Warriors seemed very much rooted in the current gender politics of twentieth & twenty-first-century Earth. I was really hoping that their civilisation would be based on military rank/merit and that gender would be a non-issue.

    Thanks for the review/examination, as always.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.